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Creating and Maintaining Company Culture in a Pandemic World

Xelure founders worked 20+ years in the Fintech space supporting mission critical trading systems so BCP (business continuity planning) was part of our day-to-day fabric. With the eruption of Taal volcano on January 12th last year, this plan came in handy as everyone was prepared to work from home as a cautionary measure. Our management wanted to put something in place to keep everyone together if and when we are all working remotely. Part of our Q1 BCP Planning was making sure there are checkpoints on every shift. These checkpoints, we call “BCP WFH Huddles”, were initially designed to bring everybody in from a particular shift into a singular MS Teams call to conduct daily health check-ins on our employees and their families.

Post Taal eruption, soon afterwards, the Covid-19 Pandemic consumed Manila and all of the Philippines. Countries around the world were thrown into some form of stay-at-home restrictions. Like several other companies, we were lucky … our clients were part of the “remote-work” able businesses. Our management and IT team made sure we were 100% ready on Day 1 through our BCP readiness.

That turned out to be the easy part! Running Human Resources, we now had to be there for our teams like never before… dealing with a crisis that never seen before. Our people were tentative, afraid, and worried about Covid and now quarantined and living with their extended family or even alone in their apartments. Our daily BCP Huddles were our lifeline to everyone, ensuring and encouraging health, wellness, and safety first, We had one on each shift, APAC, EMEA and US and allocated 30 minute sessions. Our founders, HR and IT were on every call to giving each their health and wellness update.

Taal Volcano eruption on January 12, 2020

Xelure has a “family” culture and as we quickly realized that the pandemic was not a short term situation, we decided to do more. We needed to be there for our people… not just for the IT and financial needs but their psychological, physical and overall well-being. Hence the birth of our virtual Employee Engagement Activities. A Mental Health break from the stress of the pandemic and the new normal. These are quick, fun activities we conduct on the huddles daily to foster camaraderie amongst people from different teams who happen to be on the same shift, thrown into the same huddle group. We just wanted them to get to know each other. We wanted them to have something to look forward to everyday. We wanted them to gun for the points and the prizes, and have some healthy competition.

  • Manic Mondays filled with thought provoking word games,
  • We scheduled getting-to-know-you activities for our Thrilling Tuesdays
  • Whiz Wednesdays were jam-packed with company trivia,
  • A weekly “glam” session consisted of team huddle photo-shots are our activities on Theme-day Thursdays where coordinated shirts, accessories, virtual background
  • Physically active games filled our Frenzy Fridays like Pinoy Henyo, Bring Me, Charades

Everything is virtual, fun and all!

Engaging and getting-to-know our fellow employees have never been this fun and inclusive! We started this initiative in April with employees not familiar with their “huddlemates” since they are all from different teams. With people having reservations to share, some even refusing to participate saying its time consuming and unnecessary… but we kept pushing, encouraging. The huddle leads were balls of enthusiasm and energy, contagious. A couple of months in and everybody is having fun! Now, we all look forward to it. Now, we know each other far better than we were in the office. Now, we tease, and laugh, and remember. This is the new “good times”!

We were blessed with being able to continue to grow our team and this was a great ice-breaker as we onboarded new hires and made them feel part of virtual Xelure.

What started as a small initiative to conduct health check-ins has evolved and continues to evolve. It is now vital to our Xelure culture. It’s our answer to help alleviate fear during these uncertain times and lessen the mental health risks. It is a way forward, used to onboard and introduce new hires to the Xelure family. I can’t say I won’t miss our summer outing, Friday lunches in the office or chatting with teammates in the office but I believe our BCP Huddle turned virtual employee engagement has taught us more about each other in this next normal and truly allowed us to grow together!

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